Water Storage Tips and Advice 101

Today we present another article in our non-fiction writing contest –Boatswain’s Mate from Florida

Greetings to all. I would like to write about my experience with water storage over the years. First and foremost, water is hands down the most important tangible item in a survival scenario. There are countless articles written on food storage, guns, bug out this, bug in that and multiple other survival gear and items.

The fact is, without water….your dead. The human body can only survive a few days without water, but can go a few weeks without food. Sure you can “bug out” and snare game, or kill a deer for food, but how are you going to wash your hands after you dress an animal, clean your cookware or wash down that game flavored goodness that you are probably not used to? So here is a short article on water basics covering procurement, storage, filtration and usage.

Procurement – There are many ways to find water and here are a few that are available in my area. First, the well. If you don’t have one, you should look getting one. We live in FL and have a high water table so running dry is not an issue. I have an antique cast iron hand pump for dispensing with spare leather cups on hand. The second source you can use is a nearby lake, stream or river. Note, these may be contaminated even more than already when SHTF so use care when filling containers.

Also a cheap way to find water is to use a rain water containment system from your roof. You may have shingles instead of a tin roof, but with filtration, this can be turned into potable water if needed. Finally, there are multiple other places to look, too many to list in fact. There should be good water in your hot water tank for a few days.

There may be a pool in your back yard, or you can set up tarps to collect dew overnight. These are just a few options, but remember to filter and tread your water before consumption! Investing in a wagon or wheelbarrow for transport is a must as you don’t want to lug around heavy containers for obvious reasons after it hits the fan.

Storage- I live in Florida, its hot most of the year. My wife and I live in an are that has a high sulfur content so the local municipalities over chlorinate the tap water in my own opinion. We decided to invest in a hot/cold office type water dispenser for drinking and cooking. We re-fill our ten 5 gallon jugs at the local china mart or publix for around $1.00 a container.

There are ways to purify it like a Berkey filter (which we own) but the cost of filters and convenience is more beneficial to us to get them re-filled when we go to the store. The above 50 gallons gives us quite a few days of fresh drinking water on hand at all times. Next we have three 7 gallon “reliance” brand containers with treated tap water using the Aquamire treatment liquid, these jugs (available at most sporting goods stores and China Mart)have a built in spigot for ease of dispensing. These jugs have a filter that snaps in to the side and is a secondary to the above mentioned Berkey Royal on hand.

Also we have eight 5 gallon USGI Scepter brand water jugs filled and treated on hands well as a minimum of ten cases of bottled water from Sam’s Club. This is our treated/ready to drink or use water storage, which fits nicely on one large heavy duty shelf in the garage. We also have a water BOB that hopefully I can fill up in the bath tub if enough warning is given. The final stage of storage is our 10,000 gallon Intex above ground 18’x52″ pool.

This will provide good water for about a week or two for washing/toilet flushing to our septic and general use until the chlorine runs out. Without the pump running, which can be ran off the generator for a few hrs a day with the freezer, the pool will turn into a pond quickly. Turning it into a pond is on my list and can be accomplished very easily if you have an abundance of tilapia in your area like we do and a small solar system to run a circulation pump.

Just a side note, the pool cost us around $700 shipped on Amazon and paid for itself in the summer heat, not to mention ten thousand gallons of water in the back yard! Finally, if you don’t have a well on your property by now, your behind in the game. Although our house is not hooked to the well directly, it has a hand pump which delivers an infinite amount of water via the hand pump I have installed. We chose smaller containers for ease of use versus the larger 55 gallon drums based on our personal preferences and needs.

The larger barrels and drums can be bought online in a kit that includes a cheap pump, but 55 gallons x 8lbs per gallon is too much to move, haul and take with us if we have to leave for whatever reason. There are countless article written on using milk jugs and soda bottles for storage, and if that’s all you can afford its better than nothing.

The storage of water in milk jugs inside the house can be messy if they do fail, and soda bottles do not stack well if you want a lot in one space, therefore I recommend the above mentioned USGI water jugs, or a similar container that hold a few gallons and can be stored and transported easily without feat of breaking or leaking.

Filtration – This is probably the most important step folks. You can have Lake Erie in your back yard, but without proper filtration, its only good to wash with. We have a Royal Berkey filter with an abundance of spare filters. God blessed us the ability to hold good jobs and we can afford this system. If you cannot, you can find detailed instructions online on how to make a similar system with five gallon buckets and charcoal filters.

We also have a few different water filter systems including a CataDyne hiking system and a few smaller charcoal filter bags and life straws. You must have redundancy in this area if you can only choose one area to do so with. Three different caliber handguns is great, but three different water filters can keep you alive to shoot them. Find a system that works for your needs, buy extra filters and spare parts and then find a secondary and last ditch effort to filter water, All those cans of freeze dried food you bought are useless without clean water!

Usage – Here is a short list of “what if” scenarios for water usage. What if you killed animal, how would you wash your hands after dressing it, and the meat without contaminating it without water? What if your electricity was off, how would you wash your clothes after sweating all day working in the garden? What if your water was off and your on a septic system, how would your toilet flush?

What if your neighbor was dehydrated and the least you could do is hook him up with a few gallons of water from your well to keep him and his or her family from perishing? Without water in a few days your dead, so keep it on hand. You need it to re-hydrate all those Mountain House cans, Cook those beans, and clean your cookware after a meal. There are countless scenarios that can impead your lifestyle without clean usable water and these are just a few. I hope this article helps weather you are new to prepping or a veteran. Take care and God bless!

Prizes For This Round (Ends December 21 2015) In Our Non Fiction Writing Contest Include…

  1. First place winner will receive –   A gift certificate for $150 off of  any bulk ammo at Lucky Gunner, three bottles of Fish Cillin – Ampicillin 250mg (100 Count) courtesy of Camping Survival, and a WonderMill Electric Grain Mill courtesy of  Chef Brad Revolution.
  2. Second Place Winner will receive – 30 Day Food Storage All-in-One Pail courtesy of Augason Farms.com.
  3. Third place winner will receive –  A copy of my book “31 Days to Survival” and a copy of “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat“.

Please read the rules that are listed below BEFORE emailing me your entry… my email address can be found here – please include “writing contest entry” in the subject line.


  1. I have many water filters; from portable LifeStraws (and similar types), through Sawyer mini-filters, and a Katadyn Vario, up to a Berkey desk top. I also have a particulate filter on the house’s city water line. We then use a “desk top” filter with UV for our house drinking water. I even have a system for making distilled water.

    It’s important and we have old city pipes, wood and lead too; so one can not be too careful.

  2. An excellent review of options. I swear by my Berkey Royal (3 gallon). We already need to bring in bottled water for cooking and drinking. We have an 3/4 acre pond and are working on the rain water catchment system. I would much rather drink filtered rainwater than the pond water, but with the Berkey, either is an option.

  3. Babycatcher says:

    Something to keep in mind on pond water- we were the only users of our Spring fed pond up until two years ago. Then our upstream neighbor built a pond( previous owner of our house took him to court to prevent it before) and he has sheep, chickens, goats and a donkey. So now that effluent is flowing downstream into ours. I don’t know if we can even use our pond for drinking, now, even with filtration. We do have a deep well that requires electricity to access. We have a Big Berkey. Will that be enough, with boiling,to use our pond water?

    • Get a rain catchment system. We live in Florida and the ponds and lakes are full of chemical runoff from lawn care and other applications. Since most filters are iffy at removing most pesticides and heavy metals, we would not use any standing water. We keep about 400 gals of water on hand at all times, but also have rain barrels to catch the rain coming off the roof. Unlike a lot of people, we keep our rain barrels inside the garage and have a hose that runs in from the gutter to fill them. By having them inside, nobody knows we have them and can not tamper with them. We have a Katadin filter and also three sawyer filters with bucket attachments.

    • You might want to get your water tested. Some labs at medical clinics or hospitals will do that. I believe u can also find some water test kits for sale online.

      • Babycatcher says:

        Thanks! We just got a metal roof last year, so I guess it’s time to start saving rainwater….still won’t be quite pure until we boil it, cuz the birdies like to perch on the gutters, but better than the pond for sure! Thanks for the ideas!

        • Anonamo Also says:

          Be sure to have a filter for all the nasty’s used in cloud seeding and from Nuclear waste dispensed in the air by “accidents”

          • New Copperhead says:

            Do you have a suggestion on what filter works for that? Thank you

            • Anonamo Also says:

              Just Water… water filter… does all the fracking chemicals, charcoal main component for that application + it ses other technology… also compound for horse stall sweetner, is natural rock product, absorbs …all kinds of odd products..pdz… can’t remember the name brand , but was about 15$ a bag, so reasonable.. It also takes water out of gasoline and water out of moonshine according to researchers..
              .Looks like our fearless leader is off today… no new postings… wonder is He ok?

        • You can buy snap-in “leaf guards” at any home center to keep birds and critters out of your gutters, or, at least, decrease the likelihood. The birds aren’t likely to perch on them if they are the slightly rounded style.

      • If you have a major university within a reasonable distance, they may provide testing services of your water, for a small fee. Your local extension agency/office should be able to help. They provide kits; you collect water and submit it within X amount of time of collection, pay a fee, they ship it off or you do with a label, and a few days later, you get a report back.

  4. We have a deep well (300′) for household water supply and a gravity, creek filled line for irrigation and animal water.

    We used to get our water from the creek, but same deal as Babycatcher, an upstream neighbor built a pond (illegally)and ducks and beaver messed that supply up a bit. We can still use the water if settled,filtered solid’s are dealt with before boiling or further purifying. Do not confuse filtering with purifying!

    Our pump house has a 500 gallon tank that our pressure tank is supplied from, and two water heater’s, those with the gravity line (and water right’s) ensures us a pretty decent supply.

    There is also another creek within a quarter mile from our house. We could haul that supply if need be. I have also made “well bucket’s”, two for family use (two is one), and a few more to trade/barter with neighbors if thing’s get all TWEOTWAKI on us.

    • Hi Patrick M: “Do not confuse filtering with purifying!”

      I think that is a really important point. The filters are great for taking out bacteria, viruses, and cysts, but they do not remove dissolved chemicals. Those chemicals may include toxins created from bacteria you filtered out, industrial chemicals, or chemicals from your roof.

      As far as I know, the only thing which takes out chemicals is a purifier with activated charcoal or something similar.

      We have an AquaPail 1000 which claims to remove everything, but they don’t seem to be available anymore: Amazon no longer lists them. I just looked and found the AquaPail Facebook page hasn’t been updated in three years.

      Does anyone know if they are still around, maybe under another name? I have trouble thinking a company which might have bought them wouldn’t have updated the page to tell people, though.

      If they are out of business, does anyone know of any other reliable purifiers out there? We have LifeStraws in personal and family size, but again, they don’t remove chemicals like are found in a lot of brands of pool shock, or roof run off.

      • Anonamo Also says:

        JUST WATER! even filters fracking chemicals…

      • Owl Creek Observer says:

        I think I may have gotten the last AquaPail (400) available anywhere from an online retailer. My understanding is that the company can no longer get the rare earth materials they used in the filter. I wish I’d found out about this product a couple of years ago.

  5. Perhaps the main pt is that water is #1 in prepping priorities. Have multiple ways of getting water, storing it, filtering it & purifying it. I believe that water filters & purification tablets are going to be good for trading after a disaster. One of the walmarts in our area has been selling portable water filters in the camping section. Clean drinking water is not to be taken for granted.

  6. If you live in an area that has a high water table (I do), you can drill your own well very easily. I drilled my well 4 years ago using a fence post auger and some threaded pipe extensions. I still pump water from it today. I have a video showing how I did it. Its on my channel somewhere back about 3-4 years ago. I also store large, and I mean LARGE quantities of purified water. Im selling my 350 gallon horizontal tank and I plan on replacing it with a 5oo vertical black gallon tank. Ive also made several water filters using plastic buckets and berkey filter candles. I plan on handing these out to neighbors should the need arise. (video of the filter build,is also on my channel)

  7. ONe way to make a filter last longer, is to first filter the water thru a piece of clean cloth. Then use ur filter.

  8. I have a water catchment system,sawyer filters,katadyn and life straws. Water should not hopefully be an issue. If you are prepared for everything the catastrophe that happens will just feel like normal everyday life.

  9. I have always viewed water as the weak point to any survival situation. We own Berkey filters, but found out the plastic containers they use in their filtration system crack easily. We are working on getting another Berkey with the stainless steel containers.

    In a pinch you can filter your water through a layered charcoal, sand, and cotton filter (just think of it as an over-sized fish filter.) Just be careful on the charcoal as many companies chemically treat the charcoal. Take a hammer to the brickets to crack them to increase surface area exposed to the water being filtered. It is still recommended to treat the water with bleach, iodine, or chlorine afterwards and boil any water used in cooking for at least 8 minutes.

  10. A cheap and effective filter:

    2 food-grade plastic buckets with lids.
    Poke hole in lid of one bucket large enough for bucket above to drain through.
    In second bucket, layer:
    bottom: Sand – about 4 inches deep
    next layer: Sweet PDZ (purchase at any farm co-op; used to keep horse stalls clean)
    next layer: Activated charcoal (purchase in bulk online)
    Final (top) layer: fine gravel, cleaned before placing.

    Place top bucket with hole in bottom to second bucket with hole in top (lid); add water; let water filter through. THIS IS SLOW.
    Shock with A FEW GRAINS of Leslie’s pool shock per gallon. Wait 30 minutes to drink, if at all possible.

    Filtered and shocked.

    We also like the Ceramic filters, but we purchase ONLY the kits because the kits are made in the USA, but, if you buy ONLY the ceramic filter, those are made in China. We don’t trust anything made in China.

    Ceramic filters will crack in extreme cold, FYI.

    Get those supplies here (Homespun Environmental): http://www.homespunenvironmental.com/

    and you’ll still need 2 food-grade plastic buckets for each filter you build.

    But you can build an extremely effective, cheap filter system with ceramic filters. Or the above system using no actual filter. Collect buckets and parts for post-IHTF barter.

    See the ceramic filter system here: http://texasbaptistmen.org/Ministries/WaterMinistry/Aboutthewaterfilters

    These guys carry filters made in the USA: http://www.justwater.me/

  11. I just wanna say this same article is also on survival blog.com. not sure which was posted first

    • BuckeyeMedic says:

      I noticed the same thing.

      • I did in fact submit this to survivalblog…several weeks ago. They just posted it today and took it down within hours as well. I wanted to share my experience with this subject and did not think it was against the “terms” to post it on two sites. I have gotten so much useful information from both of these sites I was trying to return the favor to readers. I am not in it for the prizes (though I wouldn’t mind winning from an entry, who wouldn’t!), I just wanted to contribute and re-pay the favor for all I have learned online. Survivalblog posted my article and took it down almost immediately after seeing it was posted here, sending me an email saying I violated their terms. My bad for not reading instructions thoroughly…….

        • I disagree with you about water being the most important tangible survival item. Shelter is. A person might make it there days without water but in extreme cold, a person might not make it through the night.

          • I live in Florida, we do not have “extreme cold”. Growing up in the north, we did, and yes your screwed without shelter…… BUT, you need fire or another source to keep that shelter warm. AND even if you did manage to keep it warm for several days, you still need water to stay alive? Food for thought…

  12. Several months ago, I read an in depth article comparing the 3-4 major water purification liquids and tablets commonly available. After careful reading I determined one brand was clearly superior but, I lost track of the article. So my question to all of you is what brand do you feel is best AND WHY? Any links to the article I might be referring to or other scientific level comparisons?

  13. This is a good place to mention that not all water filters are created equal. You know those ‘straw’ type filters you see advertised all over the place? I won’t mention a name but you’ve probably seen the two-tone blue ones. Do you own any of them? You might want to get rid of them – they’re dangerous and they could kill you. Any water filter that does not filter out/kill 99.99+% of viruses is one dead animal decomposing upstream away from a horrible way to die. Frankly, there is not a retail filter out there that cannot wear out, get broken or get lost. Always carry what you need to BOIL YOUR WATER!

  14. A little off subject:
    Today some of the people of the Islamic State of Iran burned the American flag. The American flag is a symbol that I hold near and dear to my heart. Burning the flag as a public display with people shouting “Death To Americans” outrages me.

  15. I think having a rain catchment system for domestic use is probably the best option for potable drinking water.

  16. Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been worried lately about the need for emergency water storage and these tips were perfect. Additionally, I really appreciated that you allowed for lower-cost DIY solutions. I’m not in the same financial situation that you are, so the DIY options were a great option for me. Really appreciate this post.

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